COLONIE, N.Y. (News10)-The South Colonie Central School District is announcing the future construction of a playground at one of their elementary schools in honor of a very special student whose life was cut short by cancer.

Charlie Fernandez was featured in a News10 story in December of 2020 when the Saddlewood first grader was battling neuroblastoma- an aggressive pediatric cancer.

When Charlie couldn’t go to school her teacher Sarah Norton brought school to Charlie. She even trained her therapy dog to walk with Charlie after the little girl lost her sight due to the cancer. Charlie was just 7 years old when she died on April 19, 2021. But her incredible spirit and spunkiness is what her mom Danielle carries with her. “In her obituary, I imagined her in a playground being able to do everything that she couldn’t do then- up there now,” said Danielle.

Sarah Norton took Danielle’s image of a playground to heart and thanks to social media made a connection with the Where Angels Play Foundation. The group works with grieving families to build playgrounds, most notably in honor of students and staff taken during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

“Recently they just built our 58th playground in Pennsylvania. And we are not stopping. We are just going to keep going. Unfortunately, bad things are going to keep happening. But the good news is that there will always be good people to pick up the pieces,” said Jimmy Plourde, representative for the Where Angels Play Foundation who attended today’s announcement.

Named Charlie’s Playground, the project will be inclusive for children of all abilities. It will also feature areas for children with visual impairments. The foundation’s work is volunteer driven and relies on donations. So far about half of cost for the playground is covered, but fundraising is needed for the rest.

“Anything we raise in addition to that we will pay it forward to another playground. That’s our goal, is to always pay it forward. Which is what Charlie would want. She would always want to pay it forward,” said Sarah.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for May, 2023 on the campus of Saddlewood Elementary School. When finished it will be open to any family wishing to use it.